Canadian Cancer Society bridging the health literacy gap

28 February 2017

Toronto -

Reliable and trusted health information plays an essential role in helping people cope with a cancer diagnosis, but far too many Canadians struggle to understand the increasingly complex science in the information. In response, the Canadian Cancer Society is launching a new series of plain language videos, called Cancer Basics, which aim to overcome the health literacy gap.

Health literacy is the ability to obtain, understand and act on health information needed to make health decisions. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 6 out of 10 adults and nearly 9 out of 10[1] seniors are not health literate. Limited health literacy has negative effects on people’s health, healthcare quality and healthcare costs[2]

“Addressing low health literacy has never been more urgent since chronic disease rates are poised to increase as the average age of the population continues to rise,” says Tracy Torchetti, Director of Cancer Information, Canadian Cancer Society. “We know that the number of new cancer cases in Canada will jump dramatically over the next 15 years due to our aging and growing population. This will increase the need for easy-to-understand resources on a complex disease.”

Thanks to a $350,000 corporate partnership with BMO, in the coming years the Canadian Cancer Society will develop 21 educational videos in plain English and French on topics ranging from understanding cancer to ways to cope with treatment. The videos will be posted to cancer.ca.

“At BMO, we are pleased to work with and support the Canadian Cancer Society on this initiative to ensure all Canadians have access to information and understand what a cancer diagnosis is, the course of treatment, and services that are available to them,” says Nada Ristich, Director of Corporate Donations, BMO.

The first video in the series, “What is cancer?” is available now. To learn more, please visit cancer.ca or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817, and currently marking its 200th year of operations, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider based in North America. With total assets of $688 billion as of October 31, 2016, and more than 45,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

For more information, contact:

Camille Beaubien
Senior Manager, Communications
416-323-7181


[1] Health Literacy. (2014, April 29). Retrieved February 02, 2017, from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/hl-ls/index-eng.php#tabs-

[2] Wayne Mitic, W and Rootman, I. (2012). In An Inter‐sectoral Approach for Improving Health Literacy for Canadians: A Discussion  

Paper (II. Why is health literacy important?) Retrieved from http://www.cpha.ca/uploads/portals/h-l/intersectoral_e.pd